Dear Knitters Who Are Hung Over From Too Much Knitting Excitement,
I’m in a dreamy post-MDK March Mayhem reverie, staring at my stash and my queue and wondering, what just happened? What happens next?
It was an emotional roller coaster—from watching patterns throughout 2017, to picking the patterns in January and February, to working on the Bracket design with the brilliant Eric Olson (who typically does this for actual sports competitions), to watching the votes rushing in with amazement, to experiencing sadness when favorites didn’t advance (they were all favorites, since we had picked each one), and joy at those final, tight votes.
Through it all, we kept one thing in mind: Why We Are Doing This.
Number one reason: fun.
Reason that is tied with number one: love of independent design.
Ann and I have been knitting long enough to remember when our beautiful knitting world was much more closely guarded. If a pattern didn’t find its way into one of the major knitting magazines or yarn-maker brochures, knitters didn’t know about it. It practically didn’t exist. The magazines had their stables of (wonderful) designers, and new additions to the lineups were few and far between.
Then along came Ravelry, and with it, the rise of independent designers.
Now we have so much choice. Knitters can choose every kind of fit, construction style and yarn weight. Independent designers design for knitters, not according to a trend forecast. If you like lace, there are new lace patterns every day. If you want to knit things that make hand dyed yarns sing, designers are serving up clever patterns, one after the other.
There is one edge to this wonderful new world, and it’s a doozy: independent designers do not have the institutional support that magazine designers had. Their livelihood depends on knitters liking and buying their patterns. And that, in turn, depends on knitters seeing their designs in the first place.
This can be so difficult!
We spent much of 2017 watching new independent patterns, and still we knew that good designs were probably slipping through our net. So imagine the knitter who can’t make a life’s work of keeping up on independent designers. Knitters need a fun way of knowing what’s out there, what’s good, and what other knitters have had a good time knitting and then wearing.
MDK March Mayhem is our way to help. To highlight designs that excited us the most is a way of getting knitters’ eyes not just on these patterns and these designers, but on the entire, rich universe of independent design. (Have another look at this year’s bracket, just for fun. Isn’t it a beautiful collection?)
We’re Planning to Do This Again
One comment that sticks in my mind was from a knitter who said that our Knitter’s Bracket had changed her previous view that “the only good knitting pattern was a free one.” Free patterns are fun, but we urge anyone who has devoted time and effort to designing a pattern to charge a fair price for it.
Designing for hand knitters is skilled work. It’s time consuming. And it’s very valuable.
The pleasure of knitting depends on designers tempting us with that next great pattern that we can’t wait to cast on. When they’re paid fairly, they’re able to continue designing for us.
(Oh, by the way: the same goes for MDK, which is why we weep tears of gratitude on a regular basis, when knitters buy MDK Field Guides, yarns and patterns from the MDK Shop, subscribe to our Snippets newsletter, and share our content with like-minded knitting friends. It all helps us keep this thing that we love rolling on from fun thing to funner thing.)
Help Make MDK March Mayhem Even Better
We’re thinking of ways to follow the great knitting patterns of 2018 even more closely.
One comment was that the original bracket of 64 patterns contained patterns and designers that were already well known. While we did strive to find hidden gems, we also wanted to pick patterns that we were confident would be a great knitting experience—patterns that knitters had knitted and loved. Popularity often comes with that territory.
We put out the call for suggestions back in February, and knitters responded. In many cases, they mentioned patterns we already knew, and in other cases, they showed us great patterns we had missed, and which then made it into the bracket.
We will continue to press our noses up against Hot Right Now on Ravelry, like kids in front of the window of FAO Schwarz. There is not much chance of us missing a pattern that makes it into that showcase of what’s new.
But we welcome help in finding patterns.
Knitters, if you want to nominate a pattern for next year’s March Mayhem, feel free to send us a link, either on Ravelry (where we are annshayne and kaygardiner), or through our March Mayhem email: mdkmarchmayhem AT gmail.com.
But more important than sending us links to patterns is to simply support the patterns you like. Favorite them on Ravelry, shout about them on your Instagram account, buy them, and knit them. Patterns that knitters truly love have a way of rising up.
As knitters who are abjectly dependent on the stream of great indie patterns continuing for the rest of our natural knitting lives, let us all say one last time:
Show the love, y’all! Support these designers by buying their patterns. Vote (and knit) your hearts out.